It is undeniable that the global Coronavirus outbreak has shaken up the economy, and we are still coming to terms with how to carry out business activities in the ‘new normal’.
As Singapore continues to gear up towards Phase 3 of reopening following close to two months of circuit breaker to stem the spread of the virus in the community, it is expected that businesses will have to adapt to new realities moving forward: consumer behavior has shifted significantly during global lockdowns, and we have yet to understand fully the impact on sell-buyer relationships.
Nevertheless, budding entrepreneurs should take heart that the global pandemic, while disruptive, has revealed opportunities that can be capitalized on to start a new business or pivot existing ones to stay buoyant.
We look at 5 business ideas that you can quickly start from home to take advantage of current opportunities.
1. Merchandise Trading. Many people have already taken to engaging in trading of personal protection equipment (PPE) including surgical masks, face shields and sanitisers during the circuit breaker period – in fact, you can probably observe that many companies, regardless of their primary business activities, have pivoted to production and sales of PPE and other equipment used in the global fight against Covid-19: Ferrari, for instance, has started producing respirator valves and fittings for protective masks while car sales declined.
The beauty of a trading business is that there are very low barriers to entry, and it is especially easy to set up your own trading company here in Singapore. The key to succeeding in this business, is your ability to match supply to demand, at the best prices possible. Because of Singapore’s strategic location, entrepot trade makes up a large portion of the country’s import/export sector: you can source, procure and export merchandise quickly and conveniently, and it is relatively easy to obtain the relevant licenses via Networked Trade Platform (NTP) if you were looking bringing goods into and out from Singapore.
E-commerce and e-procurement platforms like Alibaba.Com and Taobao have made it possible for you to run a profitable business all from the comfort of home using just a laptop computer.
2. Hyperlocal Deliveries. ‘Hyperlocal’ means a highly specified demographic market, and the online delivery business is at an all-time boom. Consumers globally are preferring to shop online, and we foresee that this trend will continue well after Covid-19.
While a large majority of hyperlocal delivery services are focused on food and groceries deliveries at the moment, there is space for growth for hyperlocal delivery services focused on miscellaneous commodities including (but not limited to): pharmaceutical products, daily-needs essentials, beauty and fashion products, and even pet supplies.
On-demand hyperlocal delivery services are low-overhead businesses that can potentially reap high returns on investments (ROIs), and you can quickly and easily set up an online app for your business using DoorDash and Jungleworks that do not require coding.
3. Deep-Cleaning Services. Deep cleaning services are different from regular janitorial services because they involve reaching the deep grime and dirt at offices and homes, and covers areas that are not traditionally covered by regular cleaning services, e.g. washing of blinds and curtains, full and deep dusting of all rooms and corners, furniture and even doors and doorknobs, and sanitizing of computers and peripheral IT equipment, phones and other shared equipment.
The demand for deep-cleaning services is likely to continue to rise as companies prepare for employees and staff to return to offices on a more regular basis.
You might have to spend a little more than the other ideas listed here to start your own deep cleaning services, as it will require you to invest in cleaning equipment like industrial-grade vacuum cleaners, cleaning and sanitizing agents, and manpower. On the other hand, because of the current climate, you can enjoy higher-than-usual margins, and more frequent requests by clients, especially those in the service sectors.
4. Online Instruction. It has been estimated that some 2 billion learners around the world have been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and while schools and tuition centres have reopened, parents and students remain apprehensive because the risks of community spread remain high. Some facilities like gym and fitness studios have limited slots for learners because social distancing measures remain in place, even as we move into Phase 3 reopening.
During circuit breaker, home-based learning and online fitness instruction became a new norm, and while consumers were skeptical about the efficacy of learning initially, things improved quickly, and many tuition and fitness instruction businesses are likely to retain online instruction as part of their business services. There are no limits to what you can teach online, from tutoring math to yoga, photography, and even cooking classes.
The benefits of starting your own online instruction business include:
Low set-up costs
100% home-based office setups are possible
Availability and affordability of online streaming and conferencing platforms like Zoom, BlueJeans, Google Meet, Vimeo and YouTube
Can sell through platforms like Udemy, and the ability to reach out to a global audience quickly and easily
You may need additional equipment like lighting, a good camera and video-editing software if you are planning on production of high-quality training videos – which can and will help you stand out from your competition. You will also need to look at how to make additional online study and reference materials (e.g. cooking recipes, workout plans etc.) available to your audience.
5. Freelancer Marketplace. There are freelancing platforms like Freelance, Fiverr and 99designs that help connect employers with freelancers. To stand out from the competition, you may consider setting up curated freelancer marketplaces that cater to the needs and requirements of specific industries or sectors.
One pressing problem for employers when hiring freelancers is the constant worry about whether or not the freelancer you outsourced a project to can deliver in accordance with the expectations of clients, and whether the final work meets industry standards. You can actually value-add by tailoring your outsourcing solutions to validated and verified specialist freelancers who have domain knowledge and expertise requirements for specific industries.
There are a number of Ecommerce platforms you can use to build a marketplace without coding, e.g. Shopify, BigCommerce, or even Wix.
Do these ideas excite you? You can speak to our consultants to find out more about how to start and administer a business while you focus on the core business activities here.